Lears’s discussion here suggestivelynreveals how complex antimodertiismnreally was and how intriguing a subject itnis. Here we have the revolt from anemicnovercivilization, the disquietude fromnliberal Protestantism, the surrogate religionnof medievalism, the profound alienationnfrom the new business order ofnAmerica, and, withal, the pervasive ambivalencenthat marked the retreat intonantimodernism. Lears, in treatingnAdams, has recourse to psychobiographynand pursues it sensitively and convincingly.nIn the middle of his book, Lears commentsnthat one must “take art and religionnseriously.” One can only wish thatnLears had taken this admonition morenseriously himself. The antimodernistsnseldom are permitted to make their casenon their own terms. The overriding conspiratorialnperspective pervades, and wenhave antimodernism judged mostly bynits indirectly contributing role in thenwearisome story of triumphant bourgeoisnculture in America. Yet who cannotnbe sympathetic to these dissentersnfrom a materialistic society and its rationalizednand bureaucratic mode of life?nLears has this sympathy, but then drawsnback amid his own surely questionablenclaims that antimodernism “spreadnthroughout American society” and thusnenabled Wasp elites to reclaim theirndominance through this cultural hegemony.nHere is cause for reflection. InnEurope antimodernism flourished andncame to fruition in the various forms ofnfascism that arose there in the 1920’s andn30’s; fragile liberal democracies totterednand fell. How might Henry and BrooksnAdams—frightened, vexed, unconfidentnvoices of American antimodernismn—have reacted if they had known thatntheir dissent from the materialistic, democratic,nliberal culture of their day wouldnbecome the vehicle of the recoverednpower of their elite class?nBut to pose this question is only tonshow how far off the point this subjectnhas strayed. Were Lears not so obsessednwith Gramsci and the leftist perspective.n14nChronicles of Culturenhe might have paused to ask how capitalisticnsociety in this period spurred sonmuch cultural variety. Theodore Dreiser,nnoted novelist and no friend of bourgeoisnAmerica, pleaded America’s defense inn1925. Here, he said, flourished a richnpluralism that gave vitality and genuinenvariety to human life. Here too were fertilenfields for the creative imagination tontill. A society is more than its technocraticnarrangements and its class strucmres.nDreiser knew this and understoodnthat, for all its banalities, bourgeois andncapitalistic America had many worlds innwhich one could live. Antimodernism,ntoo, created several worlds and in doingnso gave variety and vitality to the culturenof a triumphant capitalist society. Single-nparty socialist states have their elites andnprivileged sets, the rhetoric of egalitarianismnnotwithstanding. Not one, however,ndisplays the cultural variety ornvitality that marked American life in thentwo decades before and after I9OO, qualitiesnthat have become more prolificnsince. In the early 1930’s Van WycknBrooks abandoned his older, narrowernstandards for measuring the achievementsnof American writers. In hisnsupreme work. The Flowering of NewnEngland, he approached the classicnwriters of the romantic era on their ownnterms and ceased to fret about theirnpower to sway him from the pursuit ofndollars. But that was never the real issuenanyway. DnDown the Road from Heartbreak HotelnAlbert Goldman: Elvis; McGraw-Hill;nNew York.nby Gary S. VasilashnL(istening to Presley’s earlier recordings,none detects an authenticity that’snlacking in much of the music of bothnthen and now. At age 22 he was a youngnman who sang not in any extraordinarynmanner—there are many echoes of JerrynLee Lewis—but with an appealing verve.nEven if one never saw clips of early televisionnperformances, Stage Show ornSullivan, one can sense the kinetic naturenof Presley’s songs; they demand movement.nOther recordings in the rock gemenproduced in the 50’s, particularly thosenwith inane repetitions, don’t even evokenthe slightest toe twitching, just headaches.nRemarkably, Presley’s career—in mynestimation—was based on eight songsnthat were released during a two-yearnperiod: “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Love MenTender,” “Hound Dog” and “Don’tBenCruel” from 1936, “Teddy Bear,” “Lov-nMr. Vasilash is associate editor of thenChronicles.nnning You,” “Jailhouse Rock” and “I’mnAll ShookUp” from 1957.nWhat Elvis really wanted was to be anmovie star. He certainly had his chance.nIn 12 years he starred in 29 movies. Duringnthis period, which was initiated in anbig way in 1959 after his return from antour of duty with the U.S. Army, hisnrecord albums were little more thannsoundtracks and repackages. I defynanyone but the most bleary-eyed Presleynfan to recount the plot from any of Elvis’snfilms. Basically, they all take the womennfrom Dean Martin films and the situationsnfrom Bob Hope’s, and the wholenthing is covered with the mantle ofnPresley’s image. Not only is it difficult tonremember anything about what happensnin Presley movies (with, perhaps, the exceptionnof the outstanding choreographynm Jailhouse Rock when the title song isnperformed by a tough, lithe Presley), butnthe music is also bathed in the waters ofnLethe. What came out of Girls! Girls!nGirls!, Girl Happy or Roustabout? Arenthere any Presley standards in Speedway,na movie whose major distinction is NancynSinatta singing “Your Groovy Self’ ?nI don’t think that Elvis was so stupidnthat he didn’t recognize that he was be-n